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August 4, 2017

WM Tested A New Hybrid (And We Sure Did Like It)

Imagine a big, “yellow iron” loader that’s capable of doing the work of a much larger vehicle, while at the same time using 35 percent less fuel. Well, through Volvo Construction Equipment (CE), it’s currently in the works and Waste Management was pleased to take it for a long test drive.

It started late last year when Waste Management began field testing the prototype LX1 electric hybrid wheel loader. Waste Management and Volvo CE have enjoyed a close partnership over the years, as partners in both environmental protection and environmental management. 

Volvo CE’s prototype features a new machine design with almost all new parts along with some advanced technical innovations including wheel mounted electric drive motors, electrically driven hydraulics, a battery energy storage system and a smaller diesel engine.

Over several weeks, Waste Management tested the LX1 at two of its California sites – the Redwood Landfill and Moreno Valley Transfer Station –  where data was collected on fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction and then compared against a conventional machine. CALSTART conducted emissions tests on the machine and the California Energy Commission helped fund the LX1 project.

In July, Waste Management hosted a celebratory event where Volvo CE announced the LX1’s initial findings, which were highly encouraging.

At Redwood Landfill, the prototype achieved around 50 percent fuel efficiency improvement on average, equating to a reduction of 35 percent in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Moreno Valley Transfer Station saw similar results, achieving around 45 percent fuel efficiency improvement on average. Both pilot locations exceeded the 35 percent fuel efficiency improvement target set for the project.

Three experienced operators from Waste Management, trained and supported by Volvo CE engineers, carried out their daily work with the LX1. Rhonda Lepori, heavy equipment operator at Redwood, was glad to give the new vehicle a spin.

Like Rhonda, the other operators reported positive experiences with the LX1, and shared their valuable feedback on the features they enjoyed:

  • Ease of operation
  • Dramatic reduction in noise
  • Improved visibility from the seat and better rear views
  • Responsive steering
  • Powerful and responsive hydraulics
  • Overall speed – much faster than a conventional machine

The WM fleet directors and operators also gave constructive feedback on areas that can be refined, such as improving traction control and directional changes.

The collaboration between Volvo CE and WM has the potential to positively impact many of WM’s operations, as well as its bottom line. New technology that’s good for the environment and saves cost – all things WM prides itself in.